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For aeronautical weapon systems now entering development, avionics will equal or surpass airframe, propulsion, and weapons in establishing system effectiveness, both in terms of mission accomplishment and in terms of reliability, availability, supportability, and life cycle cost. Emerging technologies created the opportunity to satisfy demanding operational needs and to provide the means to upgrade systems against an evolving threat. This requires, however, basic changes in the skills, design methods, and constraints applied to avionics development. This paper highlights trends in avionics technology and systems and suggests some of the new ground rules which must be imposed to realize their full potential. Avionics considerations must be a central element of system development from the very outset, and the process of conceptual planning and program estimation must take the new realities of avionics into account.